Harnett County Animal Shelter making changes after 59 cats euthanized


LILLINGTON, N.C. (WNCN) – Animal rights advocates reached out to CBS North Carolina claiming the Harnett County Animal Shelter is not taking care of the cats in their facility.

Back in June, the shelter euthanized 59 cats after they tested positive for feline panleukopenia, a highly contagious and deadly disease.

“I think someone needs to be held accountable,” said Jennifer Marriner, who started a petition for changes that she brought to Harnett County Commissioners several months ago.

CBS North Carolina spoke with one woman who works for a local animal rescue group and she says when she came to the shelter in September she saw visibly sick cats on top of the cats that looked healthy.

“No one even looked at the cats that were coughing and sneezing until I brought it up and was like, ‘Hey these cats are super sick they shouldn’t be out here,’” said Rebekah Diky, with Three Blind Mice Animal Rescue.

Diky says she rescued 11 kittens and all but two have died.

She says several of them tested positive for panleukopenia, the same disease that forced the shelter to euthanize 59 cats in June.

“I have been when there were cats sneezing and obviously sickly,” said Dr. LaVonda Fowler, an animal advocate. “They were on the top row of kennels.”

CBS North Carolina went to the shelter to get answers.

Initially, Harnett County Interim Assistant County Manager Brian Haney declined our request for an on camera interview over the phone, but then we showed up at his office.

“It’s an issue people are passionate about and that makes sense we understand that, but our county is one of the fastest-growing counties in North Carolina and as a result our population has grown and there are a need for more services and the county is trying to keep up with that need while addressing the fiscal responsibilities we’re charged with,” Haney said.

Haney says they’re hiring an adoption coordinator and have had a consultant veterinarian on staff to improve the shelter’s policies and procedures.

He says they also have plans to expand the space they have for the animals.

Haney says he is not aware of any cats being sick or dying since the 59 were euthanized in June.

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